By Luke Lattanzi | Staff Writer
The Baylor Board of Regents approved a 6% tuition increase and new initiatives including new benefits program to help financially disadvantaged students, a plan to address rising student demand and institutional costs and a new masters degree program.
The Board of Regents, in the face of post-pandemic inflationary pressures and rising costs, approved a 6% increase in its tuition “sticker price,” which is now $54,844 for the 2023-2024 school year.
The board also approved a new program titled “Baylor Benefit,” a financial aid initiative meant to help students whose family income is less than $50,000 per year.
“This program is designed to help meet the needs of some of our most financially disadvantaged students,” President Linda Livingstone said. “This [tuition] increase, coupled with the launch of the Baylor Benefit program, will position us for success now and in the future and address affordability for some of our most at-risk and at-need students.”
The Baylor Benefit program will allow eligible students to attend Baylor while incurring little to no student debt in the process, provided they meet the university’s academic standards for admission.
The board said they believe this program will help attract higher caliber students from economically disadvantaged environments and raise the university’s retention rate by relieving financial pressure often experienced by these student populations.
The board also approved an additional $22.7 million for the renovation of Memorial and Alexander Residence Halls, home to the Honors Residential College. The university aims to build a connection between the two halls in an effort to improve the quality of living for students. The total budget for the project now sits at $57.75 million, and construction is expected to begin in May and predicted to be completed by the summer of 2024.
The board also announced the findings it received from the first cohort of students from Baylor’s faith and character study; this study seeks to measure the long-term impact on students’ faith and character development throughout college.
“The faculty who are leading this study just hit the important four-year mark where they have a first set of results that in some ways measure the things that are really hard to measure,” Rountree said. “‘How does Baylor make a difference in the faith development of the students entrusted to us? And how does the Baylor experience manifest itself in shaped character?’”
According to the study’s initial findings, Baylor helped the majority of students grow in their faith and character during a four-year time frame.
“We’ve heard a remarkable report-out of the findings of that study which validated objectively I think what we all believe subjectively, and that is Baylor and the Baylor experience makes a transformative difference in the lives of our students,” Rountree said.
Rountree also said the study is already becoming a standard that other institutions can use to measure the character and faith development of their student bodies.
The board approved the creation of a new master’s degree program in interdisciplinary studies, which, according to Baylor Regent Mark Rountree, was created out of a growing demand for this type of master’s degree.
“This, like many of the master’s degree programs that the board has approved, was born out of a growing need or demand for this sort of varied or interdisciplinary type of graduate degree,” Rountree said. “The catalyst for it really was a felt need within the academy for some subset of students who wanted this type of latitude within their graduate experience.”
Livingstone also said the new degree is intended to help graduate students create a program that fits their specific needs and career goals.
“Many of our master’s programs are very particular to a specific discipline or a couple of disciplines,” Livingstone said. “[It] allows programs to be designed that draw from multiple disciplines and it will even allow students to pull in classes from different colleges across campus, and then they could also pair this with a second or joint degree of some kind.”
The board also announced the conclusion of the university’s review of its relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Texas — a process that takes place every 10 years — reaffirming its membership and commitment to the convention.
“For 178 years, Baylor and Texas Baptists have served side by side to shine a light on God’s Kingdom across Texas, the United States and worldwide,” Livingstone said in a press release. “We remain firmly rooted in our shared history, and Baylor remains committed to maintaining our historic, mutually beneficial relationship with the BGCT and Baptists in Texas. We look forward to continuing our special relationship over the next decade and beyond.”